Two important presentations were given at last week’s Glen Cove Board of Education meeting, held at Finley Middle School on Monday, Oct. 5, the first regarding new rules for teacher performance reviews and the second regarding new curriculum being implemented at the elementary schools.
Dr. Michael Israel, assistant superintendent for curriculum, gave the first presentation, explaining how the current teacher evaluations, the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) are given, how it compares to the new legislation and what its implications are for Glen Cove. Under the statutory mandate that went into effect July 1, the APPR revisions are attached to state aid and the district must decide on a plan by Nov. 15, unless a “hardship” waiver is issued. Israel said the administration has been meeting with both the teachers union and the administrators union to come up with the best solution.
He explained that there are three subcomponents to the current APPR, including growth scores provided by the state, based on assessments of students in third through eighth grades and a locally developed growth score based on Student Learning Objectives (SLO) adopted by the district and/or BOCES and approved by the state, plus observations based on a rubric that must be state approved. Glen Cove has adopted the NYSUT rubric for observations and the Multi-Dimensional rubric for principals.
Under the new requirements, all educators will receive two ratings, one based on the impact on student performance, the other based on observations. The combination of results determines the overall “HEDI” rating of “highly effective,” “effective,” “developing” or “ineffective.” A teacher or principal who receives an ineffective rating on either component is ineligible to receive either a highly effective or effective rating overall.
The district now must decide whether to use only the required state growth or SLO component, based on state assessments, which would count as 100 percent of the student performance category or use the mandatory growth score plus the optional assessment demonstrating student growth, each equaling 50 percent of the score. Use of the optional second measure must be negotiated and must measure growth, not achievement, Israel said.
The observation component will require a minimum of two observations, one planned and one unannounced, which would be conducted by a trained principal or administrator and an “impartial, independent trained evaluator.”
The new legislation also makes it more difficult for teachers and principals to obtain tenure; new teachers and administrators now have a probationary period of four years instead of three, as of July 1, and a teacher with prior tenure now has a three year probationary period instead of two, and is subject to APPR evaluation. Teachers with up to two years of regular substitute service now have a two year probationary period instead of one year, also subject to APPR evaluation.
Karen Ferguson, president of the Glen Cove Teachers Association and a retired special education teacher who taught in the district for 26 years, spoke for about 15 minutes about the evaluations after Israel’s presentation, to explain the impact.
“APPR puts more control in the hands of the state and less at the local level,” said Ferguson.
Furthermore, she said it is taking away from the “whole child” approach to teaching, as some children no longer have electives and are even forced to spend their lunch hours working on academics. She said that, because educators’ jobs are at risk, they are no longer working together the way they used to or should. She also said she felt there could be a direct impact on students’ educations as teachers may be more worried about having a secure job and putting that before the students’ needs.
“Tenure helps teachers advocate,” said Ferguson. “I ask this board to advocate for education, take a stance against the governor. It’s not about us, it’s about the future of public education.”
Superintendent Maria Rianna said she has met with the new state education commissioner who is working to change the legislation.
“I do not believe the scores can determine value,” said Rianna. “We will continue advocacy on this level.”
Regarding tenure, she said, “The enthusiasm of new staff is not something we want to extinguish.”
Three elementary STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) teachers presented an overview of the current curriculum implemented in grades K-5, a program that is in its second year at the elementary level and the first that has included kindergarteners. The lower elementary students have STEM class every other week, opposite library, while third- through fifth-graders have it once a week. The teachers, Ken Altamirano at Landing, Cheryl Carmody at Connolly and Jessica Cialeo at Deasy and Gribbin, said they expect the students to develop problem-solving strategies based on time management, persistence and team work, with the goals of fostering curiosity, cultivating teamwork, building STEM literacy and increasing technological literacy.
Parent Kim Velentzas, who has a fourth-grade son at Landing School, said she is in favor of the STEM class curriculum, but expressed concern that kids weren’t having enough library time.
“For him to lose fiction would be such a travesty,” she said.
Carmody said that the library schedules were still being worked out,but that it “will happen.”
Velentzas, who is also the Glen Cove liaison for Long Island Opt-Out, related a story about a gym teacher at Landing coming to her with some concerns about her son, which she said she followed up on and is now getting him the needed help.
“She did not have to come to me with this,” said Velentzas. “This shows her knowledge and dedication and this is not the kind of thing you will see on APPR.”
During public comment, one parent mentioned noticing a loose board on a bench at one of the playing fields.
“When any parent sees something like that, something that could be a danger to a child, email the director of facilities or the school principal,” said board president Richard Maccarone. “Don’t wait for a board meeting to bring it up unless you’re not getting anywhere with them first.”